In 1994 Green Day seemingly blasted out of nowhere with an explosion of guitars coupled with disenfranchised lyrics that helped make a generation of teenagers fall in love with punk. Since those halcyon days of teenagerdom the band have gone political, released a trilogy of albums in one year, and now with their new album ‘Father of All…’ have gone full circle to where it all began. Almost.
To say that ‘Father of All…’ sounds like the punk of ‘39/Smooth’ or ‘Kerplunk’ isn’t totally accurate. At times this version of Green Day has more in common with Foxboro Hot Tubs' 1960s garage rock than the blistering punk that made them a household name. However, there are nods to it, as well as insights into the sounds that influenced them as teenagers.
‘Stab You in the Heart’ sounds like the Beatles at the Star Club. Fast-paced chugging guitar riffs with a catchy chorus to boot. It’s pretty fun, showing the band in a reflective mood. ‘Sugar Youth’ feels like a classic Green Day punk song straight from the ‘Dookie’ or ‘Insomniac’ era, frenetic punk backed by shouty verses and choruses. While it isn’t quite as blistering as anything on these records it will make older fans smile as it taps into what made Green Day such an exciting band all those years ago. ‘I Was a Teenage Teenager’ features one of Armstrong’s most biting lines since the early days of ‘Kerplunk’ or ‘Dookie’: ‘I was a teenage teenager; I was a teen full of piss and vinegar. Living like a prisoner for hater. I was a teenage teenager, I’m an alien visitor. My life’s a mess and school is just for suckers’.
The track’s title also feels like a call back to Misfits’ ‘Teenagers from Mars’. And this is what ‘Father of All…’ is great at. If you want to dig a bit deeper, you’ll see connections to their personal history in punk and underground culture. Musically, it’s slightly broodier than the other tracks on ‘Father of All…’ and while it isn’t ‘Basket Case 2.0’ it shows that the band haven’t lost any of their sardonic bite over the years.
At 26:16 this is their second shortest album – sandwiched between ‘39/Smooth’ and ‘Insomniac’ – and this is no bad thing: Green Day have always been at their best then they’re not messing around, instead getting straight to the point. And to the point they get. The downside of this is that with such little time, the band don’t really have space to say much. But look at any act who’s released albums into the double digits and there usually comes a point when they don’t have anything further to add to the conversation, they’re just enjoying the process. And this is where Green Day find themselves in 2020.
It’s great that they are still out there doing it, but ‘Father of All…’ doesn’t feel as important as, say, ‘Dookie’, ‘Insomniac’ or ‘American Idiot’ when they first came out, but there isn’t anything wrong with that. It’s still an incredibly fun and engaging album, full of the punk spirit of doing what you want on the spur of the moment, of being both the life and death of the party. On ‘Father of All…’ Green Day have delivered possibly their most immediate album this century and an album that, despite its short length, grows more rewarding with repeat listens. As with all their records it’s also a warning about what life can do to you, if you let it, but in classic Green Day style, Armstrong and co. are weathering that storm and carrying on.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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